Sorry About The Lack Of Updates

Hey everyone! Bear here. Sorry for the lack of new comic or art recently. Tea scared the hell out of us with a trip to the emergency room. Don’t worry, she’s okay. The doctors ran every test they could think of and found nothing. Her fibromyalgia is just inventing new ways to scare us. We’ll get back to making stuff as soon as we can.

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Yuji’s Awesome D&D Sketches

So we were playing some 5e D&D today and Yuji had some time to take pencil to paper. I think some of them are based on Once Piece characters. Enjoy!

Some One Piece characters, I think?

I think this one is the love child of Jigglypuff and Dwayne Johnson…

At this point we were strategizing about how to fight an evil cult. So this is Yuji’s monk rocket punching a dragon.

I… I don’t know what any of this is…

Domain Registration And Nameservers Are Different Things, Apparently

You may have noticed that REZ was down the last few days. Well, I can say with absolute certainty that I am an idiot. When we switched our web host a while back, I thought that was effectively changing the registrar as well. This is not the case because WordPress.com can’t accept domain registration transfers. I did not know this. As a result, I let our domain registration expire. Whoops! And of course everything in the universe conspired to to make renewing our registration as difficult as possible, because life. Everything is better now… clearly. You’re reading this after all. But I thought I owed you readers an explanation.

TL:DR I’m a moron and that’s why REZ was down a few days.

Halloween Comic!

For those of you wondering what happened to the usual Friday comic, fear not! Our Halloween themed comic will be up and ready to read tomorrow.

Now that I think about, the whole “fear not” thing isn’t really in the spirit of the holiday. So be very afraid! Our new comic will be here tomorrow!

Darn, that doesn’t really work either…

Power outage woes.

Hey guys! Bear here. We got caught in a pretty nasty storm the other day and lost power. That’s why there have been no comics. Sorry! I’m writing this from my phone using our crummy data plan. We will post a comic as soon as we are able. Thank you for your patience!

Out of Beta: Phantasms of Commercialization

Monday, January 19, 2015

Phantasms of Commercialization

So while I was ranting about a quote from Jim Sterling’s video about Evolve’s DLC the insightful Talarian asked:

outofbeta twitter

Sadly the question requires more than 140 characters to answer so I delayed for time and scrambled over here to hash something out. The question makes a good point, it’s difficult to say when something was cut because the developer ran out of time because theoretically the developer would throw everything in if time and money weren’t a factor and when it was a feature that was simply planned to be added later.

The triple-A video game development model is an entirely commercial thing, but we players like to indulge in the illusion that developers are cool people who aren’t trying to attach to our wallets like a mosquito. Many of them aren’t, but the modern reality of keeping a game studio open means the studio has to figure out ways to pay its bills. So every studio has to at some point ask itself how it’s going to get a return on their game. That was never in question, we live in a commercial world. However, some of those take it a dozen steps further and stop making it about “Lets aim for the stars and make the next WoW!” and take it to “So how can we maximize profit off the sheep players?” The trick is not making it obvious where on that spectrum your company lies. When you are using every possible means to generate revenue from players, we get suspicious.

I think it comes down to the intention of the developers when they are making the choice as to whether or not include a piece of content. If the developer is genuinely out of money to dedicate and needs to release, I see no problem with cutting content that they simply can’t pay for. If they are being held to a strict release date and can’t postpone any further I am also less critical. Though in “the olden days” plenty of developers would postpone releases to finish a game; these days it seems marketing and corporate controls when things get released, not whether the game is finished and tested (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed: Unity).

However, if the developer has already finished the majority of the content piece and will have it ready for release soon after and hold it back purely to sell it for more later, then I start to get a little annoyed. What constitutes an acceptable time period or amount of content is entirely subjective of course. I mean, in the case of Evolve they are literally increasing your eventual cost for content if you fail to pre-order. Now in some situations ordering something before release can be good, but in most of those the quality of the product is highly likely. The video game industry on the other hand has routinely been shown to release shoddy products after large amounts of hype to encourage pre-orders.

Planning to expand your game in the future isn’t a crime, but at the same time, charging people an upfront fee that is only getting them a relatively small portion of the intended total content (with a penalty if they do not pre-order) breaks that consumer illusion that the company isn’t seeking to exploit us. Your price model should reflect that intention, which should mean charging a smaller initial fee.

Developers should aim high. At the risk of sounding idealistic there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the next WoW or LoL, but there is a difference between trying to make something great and trying to nickel and dime your customers. Where that line lies is subjective, you the player have to decide whether you are getting the value your money is worth.

Posted by Clockwork at 10:06 PM

via Out of Beta: Phantasms of Commercialization.

Out of Beta: [Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk

[Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk

One of the key differences I’ve encountered when playing Dragon Age Inquisition was the feeling that my character was just a stand-in for myself rather than me stepping into the shoes of some figure in Thedas. In Dragon Age: Origins the player experienced a brief tutorial/backstory event, determined by their race/class, that explained how your character ended up in the Gray Wardens. The experience primed me on how my character might view the world.

Each intro gave the player a different experience and outlook on society in the setting. After each I felt like I had a grasp of how my character might react to various situations. My city elf, fresh from a scumbag human noble’s attempt at prima nocta, had little patience for the human king, while my recently deposed human noble found hope for revenge for his family. With each I felt like I was playing a character who had a story, goals, opinions, and feelings. Yet even though each one gave a framed view of the world the player could still decide how they would react. For example, my City Elf could choose to still believe in the good of humans, or become resentful at the injustice she faced.

In Dragon Age 2, this was toned down because the player was set in the role of Hawke, but the introductory sequence did give you some impression of who Hawke might be. Oddly enough, in their attempt to make the player feel more connected to a character they achieved the opposite result and left Hawke feeling a little hollow.

Inquisition did away with the introductory sequence and instead dropped you into the shoes of a race/class combination with a brief backstory. Now I understand that Inquisition’s storyline required the player to be in the dark, but as a result I had no framework with which to build my character. I was placed into a hollow shell, meant to be filled, but in a game where there are choices that are much more wrong than others the RP potential is sacrificed on the alter of min-maxing. Now we can say that the player is making that choice, but it means the game is, at times, punishing them for playing a character.

Were I a new player to the series, I would not understand the experiences of the various races. A new player won’t have much grasp of how the Dalish elves view Thedas after only a few paragraphs, nor the somewhat alien philosophies of the Qunari. In an attempt be more of a blank slate, the game’s setting loses it’s engrossing appeal. Origins encouraged me to play new characters to experience Thedas from their perspective, while Inqusition does not offer anywhere near that experience. There is little reason for me to replay the story; we all get to the same results anyways. They toned down the setting so much that I think it lost it’s life. Perhaps some players like that blank slate, but for me it disconnected me from the experience.

As I said, now my hollow husk of a character just picks the options that seem most likely to appease my companions because their approval as become a form of min-maxing. Instead of someone with conviction and drive, I become sycophant to my companion’s opinions. The binary approval system walks hand in problematic hand with the lack of character building. But that is a topic for another time.

Posted by Clockwork at 4:45 PM

via Out of Beta: [Dragon Age Inquisition] Origins gave me a character, Inquisition gave me a husk.